You probably don't think there's a connection between riding barefoot & booted and parenting a three year old. I didn’t either, till I read a book called “Setting Limits for Your Strong Willed Child”. Don’t get me wrong, Larkin is a great kid – funny, charming, sweet, and precocious – but according to this book, she’s what you’d call a “strong researcher”. That means there is lots of testing in our house to make sure that what we say is really what we mean. It also means she likes to do things her way, and sometimes that means she learns the hard way; the term they use is “hard-way learner”. Well, as my springtime booting experiences reveal, she comes by these traits naturally! Read on and share my rather embarrassing – but educational - litany of false starts and long days, but be ready for a happy ending!
I took all my horses barefoot and started using boots at the beginning of 2009, so about two and a half years ago. For all of the endurance rides I went to that year and in 2010, I glued on boots. Skin issues with the old style gaiters made it necessary. I had some great experiences with glue-ons as well as some booting failures, but it was always a bit of a hassle to apply them – especially with a toddler -and it became pretty much impossible as my second pregnancy progressed in 2010. Of course I wasn’t riding much at that point, but I had some friends who were riding my horses, so we’d all gather for “booting day” before an endurance ride. Now that I have two little people to chase after, I have even less time to glue, so I was excited to try using Gloves for 1-day 50s this year, as were my riding pals.
Buck Meadows Boogie on April 9 was our first 50 mile ride of the season, and we took three horses. They were three and a half weeks into their trim cycle (terrible, but it was before we all started talking so much about trim trim trim for the right fit). And I was concerned about this, but as it was still winter here they weren’t growing too terribly fast. We used power straps on all the Gloves, but no athletic tape or Goober Glue. The athletic tape hadn’t made it out of the box yet and I had some reservations about keeping gaiters on overnight. Anyway, two of the horses came through with flying colors and no booting issues. My horse Czeale however developed this weird skin irritation on the front of all four of his pasterns due to the gaiters that eventually caused us to pull. I figured out that he probably he had too much flare and it was pulling the gaiter at an odd angle as a result. Now I use a bit of MTG on the skin of the pastern after a long day of using the Gloves and I haven’t seen much of them.
Shine and Shine Only (Or perhaps not that day…)
The following weekend was the Shine and Shine Ride, located just a few hours from home. My husband volunteered to take the kids for the day for the day of the ride (god bless him!), and I would come home afterwards. I wanted to take my horse Billy, who I rarely get to ride these days due to time constraints. I was planning to ride with my friends Sandy and Robin, and we hadn’t all ridden together in a long time. The trimmer was due to come the following week, but after our (mostly) successful ride in the Gloves the prior weekend, I thought perhaps I could get away with just using them on Bill without updating his trim. It was so tempting….and I went for it. I put my baby boy to bed on Friday night, jumped in the truck with Billy in the trailer, and arrived in camp at, oh, 11:30. And no, I still hadn’t really familiarized myself with the athletic tape or the concept of Goober Glue in the Gloves overnight; I just figured since the Gloves with PowerStraps had worked so well last week, we’d be fine in that setup again. So, bright and early we started the ride, Bill feels great, and on the first steep hill, off popped the two rear Gloves. Not only did they pop off, but the screw at the base of the boot pulled all the way through on both boots. I whipped out my Leatherman and put them back together again, only to have it happen again less than 5 minutes later. It was starting to dawn on me that his feet were simply too big now and that maybe I would have to pay the price for not doing my homework... The rest of the first loop went right by the road back to camp and I decided to rider option out of the ride. It was a bummer, but I had learned my lesson about the importance of keeping the trim maintained. Now my trimmer is coming every other week.
The American River Classic (Or Mommy, do you remember how to Glue?)
The next big ride was the American River 75. The last and only other time I did this somewhat challenging ride, I got immediately lost and ended up doing it cavalry, as crew did not materialize. I finished mid-pack, but felt the whole day that if I had been better organized and of course knew where I was going, I would have done a lot better. So this year, I was determined to be organized, stay on trail, and of course, avoid a booting disaster. My friend Melanie was going to ride Billy, and I would be riding my young horse Brigadoon. It would be the first 75 for both horses. We glued on boots using only Adhere, which isn’t my favorite, especially when the weather is cold and the glue is hard to get out of the tube. But the gluing process seemed to go fairly well, the boots stayed on in the pasture overnight, and off we went on Friday. Perhaps it was an omen that at the start Billy’s girth busted on one side. Fortunately we were able to find another girth pretty quickly and the ride started. In the first section there is a ton of rock scrambling, and we lost almost all of our boots. Probably there wasn’t enough Adhere to make a seal (I’ve since developed a better protocol, but more on that later). Fortunately we were carrying Gloves, so on they went. They all had PowerStraps. Going uphill, Briggs’ boots kept popping off. I was wishing I had a little pocket mallet, or at least that we had thought to put one in the crewbag. At the 44 mile mark, Billy was just a tad footsore, so Melanie decided to pull. Standing at the vet check, Briggs destroyed the last “extra” rear Glove I had for him trying to kick off his fetlock boot. I didn’t have many options left, but I wanted to finish the ride, and my horse was actually looking great (going slow was probably ok for him!). The drag riders were waiting for me (sigh). Off we went. Lucy Chapman Trumbull had graciously helped me with finding a mallet at the vetcheck, so I thought they were all on well and that would be the end of the popping off. I was wrong. Every time we trotted even the slightest incline off they would come. I finally just took the PowerStraps off, and while it didn’t end the problem, it significantly improved the situation. Gail Hought and I finished the ride in the absolute pitch black night with seconds to spare. I will never be without athletic tape again!!
Victorious at Last
After I recovered from my very long day at American River and had a chance to think though my learnings, I decided to do the next ride, the Cache Creek 50, in Gloves. My friend Pascale would ride Czeale and I would ride my mare Luna. I once rode Luna in this ride in Renegades, and remember losing them about 20 times (not exaggerating) in the muddy bogs and steep hills. The boot sucking bogs could be ugly for Glue Ons, and since it was a one-day 50, why not keep up my experiment of using the Gloves for 50s? So we packed up the athletic tape and PowerStraps and did the ride. We had a few boot flips, but no other serious issues – YAAAAAAAAAAY! With all the mud, the boots did stretch out a lot during the day, so I just gave the hooves a few extra wraps of tape and we were fine. It was a great day and is a not-to-be-missed ride!
The Lake Sonoma 50 was about a month after Cache Creek. It’s another ride within an hour or so of home, and I didn’t decide to go till Thursday night. With all the rain this year, the ride management had to re-route much of the trail, and it ended up being more challenging than it has been in the past, which was just fine with me. Czeale and I had an incredible day in the Gloves with PowerStraps and Goober Glue in the frogs. A few boot flips but nothing that a little tape couldn’t solve. He was a wild man in his own little compact way, and we ended up 7th. It was a blast!
So for last weekend’s Wild West Ride, the original plan was to ride 2 days. As Pascale commented, this time we were really going pro! We brought three horses, three riders, two kids, and a babysitter. Camp was a beautiful wooded area in the Tahoe National Forest, and Larkin was on cloud nine, running around in her little cowboy boots getting filthy. At home, I had glued on the boots using Goober Glue in the frog area and then around the wall of the boot in a horizontal line, leaving an inch or so in the quarters to fill in with Adhere. I filled in a little column of Adhere and then did a little line of a few inches above the line of Goober Glue on the walls. That way, none of the Adhere could dribble into the sole of the boot as I turned it over to put it on the hoof. Then I held it on the hoof for a minute, and then put the boot down and pressed the front of the boot hard with my thumbs for a few minutes to get the extra Goober Glue out of the toe and make sure it was really attaching to the hoof wall. The excess glue I slathered around the top of the boot, and for every two boots I finished, I used an extra tip of Adhere and went around the top to really make that seal (I avoided the back of the boot, of course). All the boots stayed on through day 1, YAY! Due to some funny saddle and girth issues though, we decided not to go out on day 2. It just wouldn’t be worth it. Always something, isn't it? It was actually quite luxurious to make breakfast in camp and hang out for a few hours and socialize before packing up. I suppose we could have just done the ride in Gloves, but hey, I got to practice gluing, which is not a bad thing every once in a while!